Dear Mama Lawes,
I thought of you today. I woke up next to my baby girl, her name is Stella, and immediately my mind turned to you. It made me smile. I walked to the washroom and turned on the shower. I am learning these days how to make time for me. Sometimes you just want a hot shower. Undisturbed, without rushing, without all the background noise. I stood in the shower and before I could think of why, tears started to fall from my eyes. Fierce. Strong. Overwhelming. I cried because I realized that I never said sorry. I never apologized for those last few months of your life, when I just didn’t want to be around you as much. Up until then we had always been close. You were the person who understood me the most. But then you had that argument with my mama, because you felt that she dressed me up more than she dressed Tae before she took us to town. Even now as I type this, I realize that after 20 plus years, that day still plays in my head like a movie. I wasn’t mad at you because you were angry at my mom, I was mad because you made me feel, for the first time ever, that somehow I had did something bad. Like I was wrong for being me. I am sorry I never told you this when you were here.
I cried this morning because I miss you very much. You were always so proud of me for being different. You always told me, “You are my favorite you know Rica. Because you are just like me. You are brave, you are smart as a whip, and nobody can tell you what to do”.
If ever I felt inadequate, or strange, or weird, or had a hard day at school because the “muppets”, as you would call people who thought it was great to be normal, had teased me or pulled my hair, or taken my backpack and tossed it high in a tree, you would give me a piece of chocolate, and tell me how important being different is, because nobody normal “has ever done shit worth talking about, and only strange people are bold enough to change the world”. And thank you for the picnic sandwiches. Oh how I lived for those sandwiches. Those were the days. We would march down the road from Prospect Primary School, and be greeted by your smart ass mouth, and a fresh plate of food. We had no need for TV, or junk food. Because we had the best children could want for. We had a great-grandmother that actually gave a shit. And man could you cuss. I am laughing now, because it took me until my teen years to realize that those words were not “appropriate” or “suitable” for children. I miss you Mama Lawes. I really do.
I was married for a while, but now I am not. And this morning, I cried about that too. I realize that when you love someone, you love them for who they are – not for who you think they should or could be. It took me years to see that you cannot be [truly] happy with someone who thinks they have the right to change you or worse – control you. The Mr. and I are not bad people. But sometimes, even good people bring out the worse in each other. I don’t think many people realize how much courage it took for me to say “no more” and to end that chapter. It was very hard, but I did it. After all, I take after you. I am brave, I am smart as a whip, and nobody can tell me what to do – or WHO and HOW to be.
I am in my thirties now. And it seems like a lifetime ago that you went away. I remember you being sick, and me still being mad about the argument, but me wanting to be near you. But they never let me. They told me it was better for us children if we didn’t see you like that. How cruel to deny me a chance to stroke your cheek one last time, to tell you I was sorry for being distant and angry, to tell you that you will always be my favorite, and to let you know that I would probably be mad at you a while for leaving me alone with the muppets. But this morning, I cried tears of forgiveness for the adults. I know now they felt they were doing the right thing. They did not mean us any harm, adults rarely do. They think they know what is best, even when they do not. They treat children like bloody idiots, when they are the most intelligent beings roaming this planet.
You used to tell me that I was your favorite, and I believe that I was – and still am. But you loved us all equally. You loved Tae and Keemah like only a grandmother can. You protected them as best as you could, till your dying day. You would call Krystal chocolate, because she has that beautiful brown skin. You said Jeanette had the face of an angel, and that she reminded you of your mother. You rarely saw Keevon, but you made sure he felt welcome when he would come by. Melli was your red frog, because his face would turn a hilarious shade of red when he got mad. And me, I was your favorite. It was always me and you, you and me. I never felt alone when you were here. And I think that, a big part of me, has been lonely ever since you went away. But no need to worry, now I have great friends, two amazing children, and family that encourage me.
I thought about you when I had my home births, how you used to tell me, “do whatever the hell you want Rica. If people don’t like it, you have my permission to tell them to go fuck off”. (Perfect lesson to teach a child. I love you for that. You were so fearless!) I thought about you when I chose to separate from Frankie the first time (November 2014). I thought about you when he moved back in three months later. I thought about you when I sat by the ocean watching the sunset on June 11, 2016, and decided, “no more”. I thought of you when I stood up for myself, and refused to continue living in toxicity. I am proud of me, and I know you are too.
I am sorry I never told you how important you were to me. I hope that you knew anyway. You are my most precious girl, my great-grandmother, the one who loved me from the beginning, even though I could be a little shit from time to time. I miss you Mama Lawes. I love you every day. I pray this message finds you in good spirits and perfect peace. And I hope that you read it to the end. You were never a fan of long letters, and we both know you can be a smart ass. Just read it anyway.
Maya Rica aka “Yellow frog”